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SEC Approves Mortgage Trade Disclosure Rules for Finra’s Trace

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved rules intended to increase transparency in a corner of the market for mortgage- and asset-backed bonds.

The SEC agreed to a plan by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to create public reporting for trades of so-called specified government-backed mortgage bonds and securities tied to Small Business Administration loans, according to an Oct. 23 notice posted on its website.

The protocols for disclosures through Finra’s Trace system will allow for the unique identifiers of bonds called CUSIPs to be hidden, in favor of generic information about the securities.

Finra has been expanding Trace to securitized debt after the opacity of trading in securities including mortgage bonds without government backing contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression in 2008, by fueling doubt about the health of banks and funds. The non-governmental regulator oversees more than 4,000 brokerage firms.

The Trace system started in 2002, providing the first real-time data on most corporate bond trading to anyone with Internet access. Finra, which operates from Washington and New York, began last year disclosing daily market-level information culled from data on individual securitized-debt trades it had started collecting earlier.

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